Productivity in an office environment is a factor that is significantly affected by the acoustics of the space. An acoustician needs to consider the needs of a range of audiences, including first time office occupiers, clients, specialist contractors, suppliers, designers, architects and acousticians. All the mentioned types of office occupiers have different requirements and different needs in regards with what is considered as good office acoustics.
Psychoacoustic studies have proved that sound affects the way we feel and behave. In the working environment, sound is particularly critical. Complaints in the office often involve the lack of speech privacy, high noise levels and the distraction of, overheard extraneous conversations. These complaints risk becoming more pronounced when traditional office walls are replaced by partial height panels, which allow sound to circulate more freely throughout a space.
In the open plan office, the acoustical performance of panels, ceilings, floors and walls must be controlled if speech privacy is to be maintained, and the overall noise level is compatible with the intended use of the space. (Conference areas, executive offices and general office areas each have different sound level and privacy criteria).